• Member Article









    Butler Tech and Duke Energy invest in drone technology

    ‚ÄčBy Jon Graft, Butler Tech Superintendent & CEO


    Pictured left to right:  Michael Berding, President of Butler Tech Board of Education; Jon Graft, Superintendent/CEO of Butler Tech;
    Tim Abbott, Director of Government & Community Relations for Duke Energy; Laura Sage, Director of Workforce Services for Butler Tech


    We are very grateful that the Duke Energy Foundation has awarded a $45,000 grant to Butler Tech for development of drone technology education programs. The grant supports one of Duke Energy Foundation’s key investment priorities to fund K to Career education programs that address STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and workforce development.


    Drone technology is going to have a significant impact on tomorrow’s workforce. The Federal Aviation Administration projects that commercial drone sales will rise from 600,000 last year to about 2.7 million by 2020. The Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems estimates there could be more than 100,000 drone-related jobs created by 2025.


    Drones are already being used in agriculture, news gathering, utility inspection, public safety, and supply chain management. The commercialization of drones means we have to start training today’s students for these new careers of tomorrow.


    To help meet this future workforce need, Butler Tech will be adding drone technology instruction to many of our existing high school programs in fall of 2017. The course module will prepare students to take the FAA Part 107 Exam and earn required commercial drone certification. As certified drone pilots, Butler Tech graduates will have a competitive edge when entering the workforce or pursuing higher education in drone-related fields. Short-term certification programs for adult learners are also in development.


    Butler Tech has already introduced drone education programming to the community with our summer drone camps for children ages 7 – 15. The three day camps included 12 hours of flight instruction using four different types of drones. Campers took on a number of drone “missions” to apply their learnings including drone races, aerial scavenger hunts, drone disassembly and assembly, aerial photography and videography, and virtual reality.


    Drones are no longer just for hobbyists or a child’s toy. They are becoming an important tool for commerce. Butler Tech is proud to be taking the lead to make sure students around our region are prepared for this new career field and the opportunities it will provide them.